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The Lived Experience of Jeremy Oxley

Discuss About The Schizophrenia And Schizoaffective Disorder?

In mental health nursing, recovery does not refer to the complete recovery from the mental health issue in a way one recover from physical problem. In some cases, it is defined as staying in control despite of experiencing mental health issue. This led to the development of recovery principles where it focused on building resilience and support recovery of mentally ill people and not just treatment or management of symptoms.  There is no single way to define recovery of mental ill patients, however, to guide them so that they lead a meaningful life. The lived experience of 50 year-old Jeremy Oxley is a prime example of recovery where he survived thirty years living with schizophrenia. He was a guitarist in the band named “Sunnyboys” and was front man in the highly successful pop-rock band. The strength and courage he mustered and his return to the stage is itself a heroic performance. Therefore, the following discussion involves the exploration of mental health problems experienced by Jeremy and incorporation of National Recovery Framework and principles.


The video shows the live of Jeremy Oxley who was a famous guitarist in the popular Australian band, “Sunnyboys”. The documentary video shows the remarkable journey where he had survived 20 years living with schizophrenia. In the early 1980s, Oxley at the age of 18 years touted as the most talented songwriter or singer in Australia and was the front man in the highly successful band. He performed along with his older brother, Peter who was the bass guitarist. They achieved rapid success during those years and like a typical musical industry, he became trapped in the relentless touring and hectic recording sessions. This created extreme stress due to excessive work and he was unable to bear the mental and physical burnout. His health was crushing down and on April 2012, Jeremy walked out of the Enmore Theatre without any reason. Little he knew or his brother what was lurking, gradually stress triggered a downward spiral and trapped Jeremy into lonely horror of schizophrenia (The Sunnyboy, 2013).

Jeremy is a very funny and gentle person. He was a perfectionist as described by his childhood friend, Bill Bilson who was a drummer in the band and prior to guitar playing, he was in surfing. Suddenly, when he started having disturbed and paranoid thoughts and highly stressed due to his hectic schedule. He was getting arrogant during the shows and became a drunkard. He sought the refuge of alcohol and drugs. The newspapers started describing him as down and out and he could not continue with his band performance. That was the moment when schizophrenia was taking a heavy toll on his life and health.

Recovery Principles and Personal Recovery


Hi brother, Peter was at loss to understand the bizarre behaviour of his brother that ultimately led to the demise of the famous band, The Sunnyboys. In this condition, Jeremy was unable to understand that he was suffering from mental illness and denied medical treatment and finally, the brothers were apart. He became a complex personality hidden in layers and was unable to figure out what was happening around him. He started experiencing auditory hallucinations and heard voices who were talking about him. He could hear his mother and brother’s voice even when they are not around. He started hearing voices saying that everyone stated liking Peter more than Jeremy. He felt as if his music is stolen from him. These are the classic symptoms of schizophrenia in which individuals hear more than one voice that are familiar discussing about his or her behaviour. This is of great diagnostic significance and classified as first-rank symptom for schizophrenia.

Jeremy did not believe that he had schizophrenia. He was unable to figure what was wrong with him and so he denied medical treatment. This is the reason he showed non-compliance to treatment and medications. He was suffering from diabetes and unusual heart rhythms; despite of that he did not maintain a healthy regime. According to Chandra et al., (2014) the persons experiencing psychotic episodes are not willing to understand their mental health condition and seek refusal. This affects their recovery process and quality of life. This was also depicted in the lived experience of Jeremy where he denied his medical illness condition as he lacked insight into schizophrenia. He never looked himself and when finally Mary Griffiths, his wife helped him to recover from this mental condition.

Recovery in schizophrenia is personal recovery rather than clinical recovery. Personal recovery can be defined in a way the people expertise with lived experiences of mental illness that is different from clinical recovery. It is a way in which a person develops a unique process of changing values, attitudes, skills, goals, feelings and roles (Cavelti, Homan & Vauth, 2016). It is way of leading a hopeful, satisfying and contributing life despite of illness limitations. The recovery process involves adding purpose and new meaning to one’s life so that they grow beyond the catastrophic effects of the mental illness. Since, schizophrenic is a complicated mental illness condition, the personal attitude and beliefs are important for the recovery process. Patients with schizophrenia require proper guidance and emotional support so that they are able to live well within limits of mental illness (Hasson-Ohayon et al., 2014). For Jeremy, his wife, Mary acted as the guiding factor that supported him throughout his journey of schizophrenia. They lived a happy life with her and two children, Kieran and Lachlan who also provided supported him during the recovery process.

National Recovery Framework Principles


According to National Recovery Framework, there are six major principles of recovery in mental health practice that defines recovering in gaining and retaining the hope, engagement in active life, understanding of one’s disabilities and abilities, social identity, personal autonomy and providing a positive sense of self.

The first principle explains the uniqueness of an individual. It states that recovery is not about cure but providing them opportunities for making choices and living a satisfying, meaningful and purposeful life being considered a valuable member of the community (health.gov.au, 2013). It put emphasis on the quality of life, social exclusion and empowering of individuals. In the similar way, Jeremy was empowered by Mary to make his individual choices while making him a part of her family and two children. Kieran and Lachlan considered Jeremy as their father providing him emotional support and social status and a part of their family. The family recognized Jeremy’s importance and provided him ample of support and care they he received. Mary empowered him that recognized his uniqueness and gave him place in his family that strengthened his social identity.

The second principle is defined as a way in which the individuals with mental illness are supported and empowered to make their own choices in leading their lives and acknowledgement of choices that are creatively and meaningfully explored (health.gov.au, 2013). In the given case scenario, during his recovery period, Jeremy was empowered to make his individual choices so that he led a meaningful life. He was indulged in painting where he put his all emotions, thoughts and philosophy. He conveyed his thoughts and expressed his creativity through his paintings. He taught the children how to play guitar and they were happy as it was depicted in the video. These engaging acts supported Jeremy to build his strengths and take responsibility of his own life. It also ensured balance between support and duty of care for making Jeremy make use of his opportunities.

The fourth principle is dignity and respect where recovery is respectful, honest and courteous in all interactions. It also involves respect and sensitivity for each individual in their beliefs and values. In the given case, Mary and her two children respected Jeremy and they were in active conversation with each other. She respected him and gave value to his beliefs and opinions where he felt respected and dignified in the family.

The fifth principle is about partnership and communication. In the given case scenario, it is acknowledged that Jeremy was in active conversation with Mary where she supported him in a way that made sense to him. He communicated well with Mary’s children and she worked well with him. Mary became the most important factors for his recovery where she was involved in a realistic and positive manner with Jeremy to help him realize his own goals, hopes and aspirations.


As per the National Recovery Framework, personal recovery principles were well illustrated in the lived experience of Jeremy. Mary supported him by empowering his strengths and beliefs by providing emotional support. She taught that he should not blame others for the choices he made. She was patient during the whole recovery journey and supported him to the fullest and he finally made a comeback to the pop-music industry after 21 years that was commendable and helped him lead a normal life despite of his mental illness. There was proper communication, empowerment and support; although Jeremy mentions that, he is still seeking answers for his illness and believe that life is what one make out of it.

From the above discussion, it can be concluded that lived experience of Jeremy Oxley greatly influence the mental health services. It is important to incorporate recovery principles in mental health practice and provision of services. It is evident in the documentary that Jeremy who lived with schizophrenia, his wife, Mary Griffiths has participated enthusiastically and support during his illness. Her optimism and passion is inspirational and truly collaborative in nature. His lived experience shows the incorporation of recovery principles and after 21 years, how he returned to the stage. National Recovery Framework defines and illustrates the lived experience and recovery and describes recovery-based principles for guiding mental health professionals to tailor approaches for the people with mental health issues. Therefore, mental health principles are important for the overall recovery of people living with mental health problems.

References

A national framework for recovery-oriented mental health services: Guide for practitioners and providers. (2013). health.gov.au. Retrieved 17 September 2017, from https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/67d17065514cf8e8ca257c1d00017a90/$file/recovgde.pdf

Cavelti, M., Homan, P., & Vauth, R. (2016). The impact of thought disorder on therapeutic alliance and personal recovery in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder: An exploratory study. Psychiatry research, 239, 92-98.

Chandra, I. S., Kumar, K. L., Reddy, M. P., & Reddy, C. M. P. K. (2014). Attitudes toward medication and reasons for non-compliance in patients with schizophrenia. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 36(3), 294.

Department of Health | Principles of recovery oriented mental health practice. (2017). Health.gov.au. Retrieved 17 September 2017, from https://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-i-nongov-toc~mental-pubs-i-nongov-pri

Hasson-Ohayon, I., Mashiach-Eizenberg, M., Elhasid, N., Yanos, P. T., Lysaker, P. H., & Roe, D. (2014). Between self-clarity and recovery in schizophrenia: reducing the self-stigma and finding meaning. Comprehensive psychiatry, 55(3), 675-680.

The Sunnyboy. (2013). Retrieved from https://edutv.informit.com.au.ezproxy1.acu.edu.au/watch-screen.php?videoID= 655842

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